Mountains and Military in Kashmir…

We flew into the tiny Srinagar airport from Delhi, the flight was ok for me but Isaac was being pretty horrifically sick at this point… As we drove through the town we both noticed the heavy military presence, along the road and in empty building sites. The region has had a turbulent political past, as it has been the centre of a territorial dispute between India, Pakistan and China for many years. The peace movement has meant that the situation has been improving since 2004, but you can clearly see the impact on the people and towns. Most of the army in the streets looked bored and were playing games or yawning but this didn’t really distract from the fact they had military grade rifles strapped to them.

We didn’t know what to expect of Kashmir (Our £2 charity shop Rough Guide to India is 2001 edition, so only gives one paragraph on the region confirming that it was not accessible to tourists at that time). But it is incredibly stunning, the snow-peaked mountains make you feel like you’re in Switzerland and you could be in Venice lying on a Shikara long boat on the lakes.

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We stayed on a 19th Century houseboat on Nageem lake, a throw back to British colonial rule, the entire thing was made of engraved wood. We were looked after by a Kashmiri family, and drank SO MUCH Kashmiri tea (which contains cardamom, cinnamon & saffron). We were sent off with a huge bag of it to take on our travels. Kashmir is the only Muslim-majority state in India and a call to prayer can be heard 5 times a day echoing around the lake.

Top tip: data in India is ridiculously cheap 400 rupees (~£4.50) can get you a month SIM with 1.5GB of data per day, but you’ll need a different package to get coverage in the northern states, which we didn’t do, so were pretty cut off!

We really think Kashmir is beautiful. Things are a bit pricier than the South as it is not well connected by train like elsewhere in India, which meant we enjoyed a dusty, bumpy 10 hour jeep ride to the nearest train station in Jammu when we left!

Love Isaac & Ella xxx

Delightful Delhi?

After a sleepy 8 hour flight from London, and a quick panic that our luggage was missing (but turned out we were at the carousel for the other Heathrow flight) we ventured into the heat and humidity of Delhi.

Ella had read up about the Airport line which was new, fast and cheap (~68p) so we went down towards the air conditioned metro. So far, so good. We only had to make the 7 minute walk from the New Delhi train station to our hostel. Not so easy. This area is renowned for touts and scammers and we didn’t believe how many there would be, everyone telling us stories that our side of Delhi was shut off by police, it was flooded, the bridge was closed, and so on. After a lot of hassle and usage of our UK data we made it across the bridge into the Main Bazaar and to the comfort of our hostel, which bizarrely came with a three person sized double bed.

The next few days we had a great time exploring the roof top bars, where beer is served in tea cups, and a day tour with an eccentric rickshaw driver. I’m sure we won’t be the last to say driving in Delhi (and a lot of India) is crazy by western standards; “good brakes, good horn, good luck!” as one of our taxi drivers told us.

“Good brakes, Good horn, Good luck!”

Delhi is completely busy, with a population of 20 million, and we’re sure parts are definitely delightful, but for us 2 nights was enough and we booked a flight out to the mountains in Kashmir.

Top tip: if it’s your first time in India get a prebooked taxi from the airport, then get out to explore once you’ve dropped the bags that scream out TOURIST.

Ella & Isaac xxxx